HBO is less than two weeks away from premiering what is arguably its most high-profile series since Game of Thrones: Watchmen, and series creator Damon Lindelof has already spoken out about how long the show was designed to run. Fans of the Watchmen source material know that the comics only ran for 12 issues in the mid-1980s. HBO's Watchmen isn't going to be an adaptation of those comics, but rather something set in the same universe. As it turns out, the Watchmen TV show was only designed for a single season.
Damon Lindelof dropped the somewhat surprising news to Deadline in the lead-up to Watchmen's October 20 premiere on HBO. When asked how many seasons this Watchmen would run if a renewal happened, this was Lindelof's response:
I’m not being flippant when I say that the answer is one. Does that mean that there isn’t going to be anymore Watchmen? Not necessarily. Does that mean that I will be working on subsequent seasons of Watchmen? I don’t know is the answer to that question. We designed these nine episodes to be as self-contained as the original 12 issues. We wanted to feel like there was a sense of completeness, to resolve the essential mystery at hand. Obviously, there is a potential promise for the further exploration of the world but like the seasons of Leftovers that I did as opposed to Lost, which was designed to have cliffhanger finales and a promise of future storytelling.
Yes, the first season of Watchmen on HBO could well be its only season, but the good news is that the batch of episodes wasn't designed to end on a cliffhanger. Whether or not it returns for a second season or beyond, the first season will evidently have a beginning, middle, and end. If you thought you could expect a Lost 2.0 -- especially considering Damon Lindelof's reveals of how Watchmen impacted Lost back in the day -- with its wild cliffhanger finales, Lindelof's comments are proof otherwise!
Of course, Damon Lindelof (who had the perfect response to comic scribe Alan Moore's comments about the show) didn't rule out future seasons of Watchmen, although it's interesting that he mentioned he doesn't know if he'd be working on any subsequent seasons. If Watchmen is a great as it's being hyped to be, maybe it would be best for the show -- or at least Lindelof -- to close on a high note rather than go for a second, quite possibly inferior season. We don't want a repeat of True Detective Season 2, do we?
The first season may be as self-contained as the 12 issues of the original comic series, but HBO's Watchmen won't be a straight adaptation of the comics. The show will be more of a sequel than a reboot, according to Damon Lindelof, and it treats "the original 12 issues as canon." So, don't expect the story of the TV series to go down as Watchmen did on the page!
When asked if all of the work he put into Watchmen Season 1 was a lot for the show to be one and done, Damon Lindelof said this:
When we all sat in the room and talked about what this season of Watchmen was going to be it required a tremendous amount of world building in terms of all the events that we inherited that occurred before November of ’85 when the book ends, or December I guess technically. Then we had to create a new sense of history from ’85 to 2019, which we did and then we had to actually write the show. We did all of that work but we did not talk about what would happen beyond the resolution of this season’s story. I feel like it was hard enough just to figure out how to do this season. So my hope is that when this season ends that the audience will feel the same thing we did as storytellers, which is a feeling of completeness and resolution.
If Watchmen does come back for a second season, it evidently won't be because the writers and producers came up with a bunch of future stories they wanted to tell or continue to tell while crafting Season 1! "Completeness and resolution" definitely aren't bad things when it comes to TV shows, and HBO may still be feeling the sting of fan reactions to the resolution of Game of Thrones, such as it was.
The nine episodes of Watchmen could be must-see TV, so be sure to tune in to HBO on Sunday, October 20 at 9 p.m. ET (which happens to be Game of Thrones' former time slot). For more of what's in store, swing by our fall TV premiere schedule.